On Saturday, November 20, MSNBC aired a segment by activist Gyasi Ross comparing Thanksgiving to genocide. “But I’m still trying to find out what indigenous people received of value. Instead of bringing stuffing and biscuits, those settlers brought genocide and violence…” he said. Ross’s ignorance and searing rhetoric contradicts the historical record but nevertheless has been fueled by an educational and media establishment determined to uproot Western Civilization. The fact that a major news network would provide any airtime to Ross—and that its viewers would applaud the move—highlights the depth of the rot in mainstream society.

Conservatives rightly pounced on the story as proof of “leftist” media bias. This may be true, but their attempts to push back against Ross and his message suffer from the same type of historical ignorance, namely the Yankee myth of American history. The “story of Thanksgiving” where the helpless Pilgrims overcame hardship by breaking bread with American Indian tribes makes for a good Charlie Brown cartoon and a Rush Limbaugh series of books, but the real first Thanksgiving, the version no one is taught in school, offers a more compelling defense of Western Civilization.

Thankfully, Shotwell Publishing has published a new children’s book that explains the true origins and history of the first English Thanksgiving in America. Written and illustrated by Charles Hayes, The Real First Thanksgiving takes young readers on an adventure to Old Virginia and the roots of the American experiment. Virginia established the first representative government in North America and hosted the first English thanksgiving. It provided the framework for the American experience, and in contrast to Ross’s assertions of “genocide,” faced near extermination from starvation, disease, and frequent Indian attacks. In fact, the annual Thanksgiving inaugurated at Berkeley Hundred, Virginia only lasted for about a year as most of the men and women were slaughtered by the local Indians.

Americans would do well to remember the prominence of Virginia in early American society, not because as Nikole Hannah-Jones insists it introduced African slavery to American history, but because it was home to American self-government and American traditions like Thanksgiving. We should applaud Hayes and Shotwell Publishing for making this true story of Thanksgiving accessible to young readers—and to adults who also need to know the real history of the event.

Brion McClanahan

Brion McClanahan is the author or co-author of six books, How Alexander Hamilton Screwed Up America (Regnery History, 2017), 9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America and Four Who Tried to Save Her (Regnery History, 2016), The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Founding Fathers, (Regnery, 2009), The Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution (Regnery History, 2012), Forgotten Conservatives in American History (Pelican, 2012), and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Real American Heroes, (Regnery, 2012). He received a B.A. in History from Salisbury University in 1997 and an M.A. in History from the University of South Carolina in 1999. He finished his Ph.D. in History at the University of South Carolina in 2006, and had the privilege of being Clyde Wilson’s last doctoral student. He lives in Alabama with his wife and three daughters.


  • teachem2think says:

    Nope. The First American Thanksgivivngs were Catholic. Learn and Celebrate!


    • Peter Walden says:

      The point of this article was not about whether these people were Catholic or Protestant, that’s a narrow interpretation that misses the broader view here. It’s not exclusive to a specific denomination.

  • Joe Johnson says:

    Thank you very much Dr. McClanahan.

  • William W. Whitley II says:

    Thank you for correcting the myth that Thanksgiving was first celebrated by the Puritans and Native Indians in Plymouth, Massachusetts. As a native Virginian, and an avid reader of Southern History, especially regarding Virginia, and the WBTS. Always rebuking the Revisionist’s “opined “ and distorted versions of Colonization and the War, it gives me great pleasure to read the facts and truths of both, not tainted by the illiterates snd lowIQ self proclaimed Historians. Thanks again.

  • Scott Perry says:

    First time to this site….and last. I appreciate dialogue, research and historical facts which are so often ignored. One of the opening statements, however, “Ross’s ignorance and searing rhetoric contradicts the historical record but nevertheless has been fueled by an educational and media establishment determined to uproot Western Civilization,” puts a severe crush on objective learning. Ignorance is attributed to Ross is unsubstantiated. What question was he asked to address? Was he asked to address the New England Thanksgiving story that is actively taught in public schools? What was the contradiction in his,words? There is substantial evidence of genocidal events in New England, as well as up and down the East Coast. Not all actual events of European entry to the Americas was civilized. I find it hard to swallow that Western Civilization is challenge when it omits so many facts. Before Virginia, there were many episodes and atrocities between Natives and the Spanish in what is now Florida and southern Georgia. These Native tribes were actually caught between the differing understandings and goals espoused and practiced by the Spanish and the English explorers. The stories of people being erased from the time of Columbus may never have reached Virginia, but history of the first settlers of Virginia does not record a understanding of Native societies. The actions of the settlers appears founded in the papal decree that allowed European nation after European nation to claim land as their own by simply planting a flag of their country and royalty. This is how the “New World” founded and claimed according to the history of Western Civilization. I hope this does not reek of illiteracy or low IQ as identified in one other comment. I am not a historian, although I enjoy reading to understand how we came to be who we are today. My lineage and descendants are from Scotland and England almost two hundred years ago. I am a veteran who spent 32 years as an enlisted member of the United States Military. I believe that calling names, degrading others, increasing pressures of division is not what should define our people, culture, or country. It is time to see settler colonialism for what is and continues to be today; evil and genocidal. It is not enlightening but it is the reason we continue shedding the blood of our troops in foreign lands. Is the key to civilized societies achieved by head to head confrontation, or does it come from learning how to walk side by side with each other toward shared goals for health and survival? What should we learn from the first real Thanksgiving? Is Thanksgiving about division or coming together? Hopefully, we have the capacity to understand it’s beginnings and what is needed today for A real Thanksgiving.

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